The ‘incredible’ rate of work of Leeds United and their fearless attacks on Manchester City and Liverpool prove that they have what it takes to upset the hierarchy of the Premier League.
The Whites might only be eighth at the early-season table, but when it comes to hard work, they are untouchable in almost every statistic. They’ve already made more than 100 goals after four games, well above any other team in the league; they’ve won more goals, averaging a whopping 18 per game, and they’ve put more pressure on their opponents than anyone else on more occasions.
Their energy is such that no team can make the lost ball more effective, either. So far, Leeds has regained possession 252 times, with Liverpool’s nearest competitor 246 times. And, on average, they press their opponent 184 times in each match. It is this extraordinary dedication that gives Leeds a strong foundation to create a fruitful season for the first time in 16 years as they return to the Premier League.
Now, the only question is, can they keep up with this furious pace?
On Saturday, Leeds’ ferocious show saw them chart up 32 goals, winning 21 of them, and knocking City, the last runner-up, out of their way, while Marcelo Bielsa’s men won a deserved 1-1 draw.
In the first game of the season, when the Whites were trapped in the champions, making the season-high 32 fights again and narrowly losing the game 4-3, Anfield had a similar story.
The physicality of Leeds will come as no surprise to anyone who’s trained with coach Bielsa.
The Argentinian has always asked his players for an outstanding rate of work, seeing it as an integral part of the game.
‘We played our part in making the game gorgeous,’ Bielsa said after the draw on Elland Road with City. The city is a very strong team, physically, emotionally, and technically. We had to put in a big physical effort to make half the match even or marginally better than City,’ Bielsa added.
“We weren’t able to take the ball off at the beginning. Afterward, we became more physical in the duels and as a whole, and aside from stronger defending, we were able to attack and attack well.”
A defensive emphasis does not mean a negative approach. It is part of Bielsa’s ideology that if it is to be successful in attacking, a team must be strong in defensive.
He reflected on Saturday, “There’s a lot of time you need to protect yourself properly so you can strike well. Players from Leeds are required to put miles in both defense and attack whenever they play, and to do so enthusiastically for the manager they love.”
Bielsa revealed last season that his Polish medium, Mateusz Klich, had an average of 12 km per game, including 1 km of intense sprinting.
‘I want to do that,’ the Yorkshire Evening Post said to Klich.
‘It’s cool. It won’t be for lack of commitment if Leeds fails to sustain their prodigious pace of work as the season progresses. And the challenge Leeds is taking the existing order of the Premier League to experts licking their lips for more epic end-to-end meetings. They’re going to be brilliant for the neutrals to watch because it’s such a special and distinct way of playing that the manager allows them to do it,” said Alan Shearer on BBC MOTD2.
It’s dangerous in football, but it works for them because they’re so fit that they have to be because they have to get all over the park. It’s incredible how they’re going.